Is Your Sick Leave Policy Up-to-date?

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( — April 21, 2015)  — As of July 1, 2015, earned sick leave is a statutorily guaranteed benefit to Massachusetts employees. While much of the focus has been on small business owners who did not previously offer sick leave, the new law also put the onus on businesses that did provide that benefit to make certain their current policy meets the requirements of the new law. 

“Sick leave policies can vary from company to company. Some allow employees to carry over sick time, others do not. The new law clearly defines the minimum requirements and should be cause for most businesses with 11 or more employees to review their policy,” said Elizabeth Caruso, an Associate at the law firm of Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. in Quincy, Massachusetts.  

The new law requires that all businesses with 11 or more employees will have to provide paid sick leave, while businesses with 10 or less employees will have to provide unpaid sick leave. Employees, both full and part-time, can earn sick leave at the rate of one hour earned leave per every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of earned time per year. Employees who are considered “exempt” from the overtime requirements under the Massachusetts Fair Wage Laws are considered to work 40 hours per week. 

Employees will be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of leave per year into the next calendar, but will not be allowed to take more than 40 hours of leave in any calendar year. Unlike vacation pay, employers will not be required to pay any accrued sick leave time to any employee when employment terminates.

“Employers who already offer an equivalent or better sick leave or paid time off policy that meets the minimum requirements of this law will not be required to amend their policy,” said Caruso.  “Employers who have entered into contracts, benefit plans, or collective bargaining agreements with employees must continue to honor those agreements for the duration of the agreed upon term.”

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office will be issuing rules and regulations regarding the interpretation and implementation of this law in the coming weeks. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office will be required to issue an employee notice regarding sick leave rights that must be conspicuously displayed by employers. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who utilize leave under this new law. As with other labor laws, the Attorney General’s Office will be charged with enforcement of the law.

If you are a business owner and want to know how the new sick leave law will affect your business and your employees, please contact Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro at 781-202-6929. Additionally, Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro attorneys are available for speaking engagements on the new law. Inquiries can be made at the above number or by e-mailing